The purpose of this blog is to provide insights from the Christian perspective. It exists to present the elementary teachings of the Glorious Gospel through the preaching of sound doctrine, providing biblical exegesis, and by conducting apologetics. The Apostle Paul gave the following exhortation, "...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." (1 Corinthians 4:6)
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Rebutting A Rebuttal By Catholic Answers On Purgatory
Defining The Issues:
-Roman Catholic apologist Tim Staples has written an article titled "Is Purgatory in the Bible?". Quite simply, its purpose is to defend this Romish dogma and address various objections to cited proof-text such as 1 Corinthians 3:15, which refers to God testing the quality of each believer's works by fire. Thus, we see the primary reason for this response being generated. It needs to be demonstrated amply that the Roman Catholic misinterpretation and misuse of this passage from the first Pauline epistle to the Church of Corinth is extremely erroneous. It is based on poor exegetical principles, as well as a major perversion of the gospel.
Why The Arguments Presented By Tim Staples Of Catholic Answers Fall Short:
1.) Okay, no sensible Christian would deny that there exists in inextricable unity between the individual and the deeds committed by that individual. Our external actions are a reflection of what is taking place spiritually in our hearts. But this fact offers absolutely no support for the Roman Catholic position, as the context of 1 Corinthians 3:15 is not even speaking of punishments for sin. It is discussing the inheritance of heavenly rewards, or suffering from a lack thereof. This text is speaking of the judgement seat of Christ, where we shall be rewarded according to our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10). Why would the Christians who's works withstand the testing of the fire need to be punished with those who did not have any works that withstand the testing of the fire?
2.) The response prompted by Catholic Answers is for the most part a tautology, and so does not really have much merit on the issues presented at hand. This text is not at all talking about purifying the believer from sins, but rather God testing and revealing the quality of each man's work. There is no denying this. 1 Corinthians 3:15 clearly states, "saved through fire," not "saved by fire." This fire is not described as having salvific properties. There is clearly a contrast in the kinds of materials used as metaphors to describe the quality of various deeds in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. This text when cited in context refers to Judgement Day, not Purgatory which pertains to the immediate state. So it appears that Roman Catholics continually read the foreign concept of Purgatory back into the text.
3.) The soteriological overtones found in the passage of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 are utterly inconsistent with the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. See my commentary on this biblical text for elaboration. In short, it shows that believers will not undergo condemnation, which includes Purgatory. Justification is strictly by grace, and not merited by works (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5-7). Works are the product, not the result, of salvation. They are descriptive, not prescriptive, in nature. God uses works in judgement because they are the evidence of our faithfulness to Him. Our works simply determine the heavenly rewards received, not salvation. We are cleansed only by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:10-14). The doctrine of Purgatory can only makes sense in a works-based salvation theological framework, as it involves the individual making atonement for sin.
4.) Would it not be unfair for the people alive during the time of the Resurrection to not be made to undergo the flames of Purgatory because they shall be taken immediately into the sky to be with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), when all their ancestors were sent to this place of painful purification? If our bodies can be perfected in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52), then why cannot the same be true of our souls being cleansed by the blood of Christ? How long must each soul be made to remain in Purgatory, and how many indulgences would be necessary to terminate their stay? Even the Roman Catholic New American Bible plainly attests to the fact that the text of 1 Corinthians 3:15 lends no credence to the notion of Purgatory.